A Summation of Soumaks

My next piece had been planned to be in monochrome with emphasis on textures. But what textures? I decided to do a sampler.

Texture can be added in four main ways (considering here only flat-weave):

  • by warp wrapping – which is the basis for the Soumak technique,
  • by the insertion of supplementary wefts,
  • by looping, such as a continuous, uncut ‘rya’,
  • by a combination of the above.

I wove 12 soumak variations, based on the examples in  Mette Lise Rossing’s ‘The Threads Course in Tapestry’. The sampler is very small: width 15 cm (6”), height 10 cm (4”). In the list below the block type gives the corresponding paragraph number in Mette Lise Rossing.

soumaks2

Reading from the bottom up there is

  1. mlr 75     open soumak, one pass, ;
  2. mlr 77     closed soumak, one pass;
  3. mlr 78     open soumak, one pick, closed soumak one pick, open soumak one pick;
  4. mlr 82     double open soumak, one pass, notated as forward 3 back 2 or 1/3/2;
  5. mlr 84     double closed soumak, one pass, 1/3/2;
  6. variation on mlr 79-81   extended open soumak, one pass, 1/5/3, so with overlap;
  7. variation on mlr 79-81  extended closed soumak, one pass, 1/6/2, so no overlap;
  8. mlr 91     double closed soumak on alternate warps, 3 picks,  each alternating                                    with the last;
  9. mlr 93     as 8 but with the insertion of a supplementary weft;
  10. mlr 102   a ‘continuous rya’, one pass – can be seen as open and closed                                               soumak on alternate warps, the second pick alternating with the                                          first;
  11. mlr 103    as 10, but the second pick stacked on the first;
  12. mlr 90     3 triple half-hitches, knots to the front, one pick – essentially a  triple                              closed soumak on 1 warp.

Items 1 and 2 show the basic soumak chevron. The doubled variations in 4 and 5 make the chevrons larger, more obvious.

Item 3 stacks one half only of the chevron.

Items 6 and 7 give elongations of the chevron, and convey a sort of lengthening, smooth effect.

Items 8 and 9 have an interesting pattern variation, quite different to the ‘bricky’ or chained appearance of  items 10 and 11.

Item 12 gives the appearance of a strong raised welt.

 

There seem to be 4 basic patterns:

1 the chevron

2 the ‘fasces’ – items 8 and 9

3 the chain – items 10 and 11

4 the ‘welt’ or ridge – item 12.

There are clearly a large number of possible variations, depending on

1 the number of warps crossed forwards and backwards,

2 whether open or closed,

3 whether crossings are over or under, and

4 whether the following pick is stacked or staggered.

The notation I improvised above does not cover all the possibilities. A full notation system would be quite complicated, BUT when actually working it is essential to know exactly how the effect is being produced and to be consistent in its application.

If anyone knows of a notation method, I’d be interested to hear of it.

For this exercise I used this little ramshackle sampler loom, knocked up in a hurry and held together by string, a clamp and hope. The open frame dimensions are width 27 cm  (10.8”), height 32 cm (12.8”).

1-ramshackle

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2 responses

  1. ng

    A useful tip. Thank you Mimi.

    March 10, 2017 at 12:59 PM

  2. Shirah Miriam Aumann

    I sometimes use a double weft doing a type of rya knot around the left selvage and then moving the two ends around 1, 2 or 3 warps and pull through and continue across the warp to the right side (since I am right handed it works better for me this direction). This is a quick soumak that is very effective when you are wanting a more visually obvious, separation type soumak. It can also be done with multiples of smaller yarns to form the two working ends. I use it a lot… Mimi

    March 9, 2017 at 3:27 AM

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